Written in a Rush
Whilst she's always said that her characters are not based on anyone she knows, romance novelist Teresa Goren (Janet Margolin) admits in a TV interview that maybe one of her characters is based on the handsome man she has been dating, Wayne Jennings (Andrew Stevens). What Teresa doesn't know is that Wayne is a no good womaniser who had been dating her just to get his hands on her fortune. When Teresa is found murdered Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) suspects Wayne even when some evidence shows up to supposedly clear him of any involvement. Choosing to tail Wayne he soon spots him getting friendly with Teresa's sister.
It has to be said that whilst Peter Falk showed up for "Columbo: Murder in Malibu" I do wonder whether the rest of the cast and crew realised that they were making a "Columbo" TV movie. I say this because out of the 69 episodes and TV movies which made up Peter Falk's time as Columbo this has to be one of the most disappointing, but disappointing for being so uninteresting.
Now I must admit I enjoy the familiarity of watching either an episode of Columbo or a later TV Movie and part of that familiarity comes from the strong cast and characters around Peter Falk for him to bounce off of. Unfortunately in "Columbo: Murder in Malibu" the supporting cast struggle to make their characters work and at the same time seem incapable of providing what Peter Falk needed for Columbo to have great interactions with those he suspects and questions. Sadly the worst of these is Andrew Stevens as Wayne Jennings who seemed out of his depth playing a bad guy in this, although if you put his performance in an 80s soap opera it would have been acceptable.
Now there are some twists to "Columbo: Murder in Malibu" but I am not going to reveal them as to be honest they were pretty under whelming. In fact the most entertaining that this Columbo TV movie gets is watching Peter Falk bring out Columbo's sharp eyed nature when seeing the inconsistencies that other cops and detectives don't such as why would a robber who can break into a safe with ease smash a window to get in when the lock was a standard one.
What this all boils down to is that as I always say, even a poor Columbo is entertaining and "Columbo: Murder in Malibu" despite not being great is still entertaining. But this is one of the weakest episodes/TV movies in the series and the weakness comes mainly from the poor supporting cast's performances.